Good Example Of Function Of Education – Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Education, Society, Democracy, Sociology, Students, Communism, Ethics, World

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/12/06

A Study and Discourse of the Debates

A Study and Discourse of the Debates


Taking the lectures provided in this course, using them as a springboard to expound research, identify, assess, and create discourse prods this scholastic project considering whether the purpose of education remains founded as appropriate to socially constructed values as the definitive expectation of society of the conduct of people in the world of work from the context of debates about the function of education. Considering the different debatable positions on the function of education remains rooted in philosophical precepts as explained by Mirdha (2013) at the least. With the democratization of the world and the fundamental rights of equality then education moves from 19th and even 20th century ideology of education as a privilege and not the right it now holds legally and ideologically in the 21st century. The fact continues for many, that higher education remains a privilege connected to financial, gender, and social or class status in some parts of the world. Embracing the concept of lifelong learning proves a pragmatic approach to the subject and underpins the humanistic side of the debate (Aspin and Chapman, 2001). Consequently to the following academic focus therefore, considers the different philosophical views, perspectives, and theories on the purpose of education including an understanding of the social functions of education, liberal, Marxist, functionalist as well as consideration and discussion on the purpose of education towards the individual and society.

Social Functions of Education

As a result of the politics of education with debates focusing on the connection between the future forms of societal organizations and education such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) deemed this as development of democracy with social cohesion according to Kantzara (2009). Further according to Kantzara (2009, p. 5), “Emphasis is given to facilitating access to primary education internationally and to teaching social ideals, tolerance, solidarity, and global citizenship. Teaching methods also underwent changes facilitating students' ‘active learning’ and critical thinking.” Accordingly, taking such a view looks at education as the justification process included in the greater picture of governance.


Levinson (1999, p. 168) explains the connection to liberal philosophies of how education looks to assisting children with opportunities provided with gaining a liberal educational goals and the further opportunities this success provides. Further, liberal philosophies toward the benefits of education connected to the good of society means assisting learners in realizing their full abilities as individuals and argues for “the coherence and value of the autonomy-driven, liberal educational ideal.” In addition, his argument holds how “acting upon our principles, and by encouraging children to adopt and to develop the habit of acting upon these principles as well, that we can ensure that liberal aims and practices will flourish as part of the national culture.” Other ideas aligned to education and liberal views hold with the concept of justice such as those with the Kantian philosophy.
Carr (2003, p. 169) looks at the influence of 21st century educational philosophy as significantly impacting general views of political philosophy, moral, as well as social in general. Liberal education philosophies emerge more connected to the sanctity of the individual in society as “in short, to regard society as neither more nor less than a collection of individuals.” This is among neo-liberal thinkers such as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. At the same time, and conversely, there exists, “ the equally time-honoured alternative to any such view is to hold that it is hardly possible to make sense of individual human personhood apart from its socio-cultural associations: on this view, since the very idea of individual personality is normatively weighted - to be a person is to be a particular bearer of shared and inherited social values “
Carr (2003, p. 175), likens the recent liberalism ideologies connected to education as “a cocktail of the central ideas of the great nineteenth-century heirs to Locke's liberal empiricism - notably those of the high priest of liberalism, John Stuart Mill - and (some version of) that ethics of deontology distilled by Kant from the social, political and educational philosophy of Rousseau.” Herein, the move of the modern liberalist mainstream view looks at the Kantian deontology or the ethical approach focusing on the correct or incorrect nature of actions as opposed therefore, to the right or wrong nature of the consequences of said actions. Assessment of the liberal point of view comes up with any of its applications connected to society, politics, and to education as an ideology fraught with debate too often failing with an ability for forming a concrete foundation leaving huge potential for dangerous gaps in policies (about labour, education, social change) as designated by Gaziano (2014).


Review of the course lectures/notes concluded how evidence including Bowles and Gintis supporting Marx’s claim that an education system giving educational opportunity mimics social classes denying the working class children social mobility through education. To the contrary in particular to Western nations clearly, proof of the opposite exists. Further, the National Curriculum (as well similar Western policies making discrimination difficult as the law indicates equal instruction for all students. Acknowledging the 21st century as the age of technology further reveals with the decline of manual jobs and the increased need for education aligned to the technology based work the distinction between education and employment proves no longer as clear as in prior eras (1976).
Aronowitz and Giroux (1986, p. 6) consider the views of counter political philosophies to those of leftist thinking Marxists about the function of schools finding the two in agreement as, “entirely sympathetic to an economic interpretation of the function of schools, including their role as reproducers of prevailing social relations.” Additionally, with Marxism claiming how history indeed replaces social ethics, therefore, “class analysis precludes reform and that the language of possibility must address only the project of global social transformation. Lacking an immediate prospect for the latter, Marxist education theorists are constrained, at a certain point, to shut up. ”Philosophically, if not pragmatically, what remains problematic with the Marxist ideology is its distortion of social realty. The Marxist view that bourgeois ideology connects to formal education provides the example of this false assumption. Further, the “ideas such as freedom and equality are far from the objectives of school authorities who are, perhaps unwittingly clerks not only of the state, but also of the class that dominates it.” As a result, “Thus, school knowledge within capitalist society is an instrument of ruling class power, because it reproduces the ideology that in this society individuals possess not only rights, such as school attendance, but also equal opportunity to advance on the social ladder.”
In terms of the outcomes of the theorists emerging between 1950 into the 1970s according to Aronowitz and Giroux (1986, p. 6), “education was directly linked with socio-economic development” as connect to the means for no longer depending on advanced nations. A direct counter to previous historical notions (clearly the foundation of Marxist views on the workers, education, and social classes) because “higher institutions been deeply embedded in educational philosophies and ideologies whose purpose was to train and sponsor privileged elites that would take over the realms of colonial administration.” Theorists emerged noting how “education provides the category of labour force required for industrial development and economic growth.” Others including Agbo (2005, p. 57) counter views of the limitations of understanding education as a valuable tool for economic equality attributed to Marxist ideals, stating, “thus, when societies invest in education, they invest to increase the productivity of the population” as contributing to the economic equal opportunities as a work force.


Toward the Individual
The value of education considering whether the purpose of education remains founded as appropriate to socially constructed values as the definitive expectation of society of the conduct of people in the world of work considering its connection toward the individual therefore looks at how education according to Shapiro (2005, p. 14) offers insight. He sees how education connects “us to past and future generations, providing the continuity necessary for human flourishing.” Meaning frames the need of the human imagination seemingly investing in the collective history, of specific eras, and in actions of humans in these distinctions. While, “It may be a thorny matter to invest history with meaning, but it is essential if we are to invest our efforts with beliefs and desires that go beyond ourselves.” Historical narratives provide humans the means for dealing with the fundamental insecurities typical to humanity about life along with the inevitability of death while aspiring and constructing “a more rewarding reality” while providing humans with a particular “moral guidance regarding which ‘authorities’ to obey.”
Further to the views of Shapiro (2005, p. 97) on the individual relationship to education he explains how, “the contemporary development of Western liberal democracies is focused not only on the appropriate manner to ensure the rights of individuals and small family units, but also to respond to the potential need to provide constitutional space for group rights.” In this, there emerges what substantiates a consideration of the purpose of education remaining founded as appropriate to socially constructed values as the definitive expectation of society of the conduct of people in the world. As with the previous discourse on liberals and education, the view of Shapiro points out that, “However reasonable and important such an additional objective may be, it may make it increasingly difficult to attain the common agreements required by any coherent community.” As a result, a definitive defining of individual rights within such a framework with numerous different types of groups and having group rights of some kind consequently “makes it increasingly challenging, for example, to protect individual rights” that include access and equal opportunity to education.

Toward Society

Similar to the social function of education as discussed above, but nonetheless having a specific focus as well considers the value of education considering whether the purpose of education remains founded as appropriate to socially constructed values as the definitive expectation of society of the conduct of people toward society in general must address according to Shapiro (2005, p. 1) serving interests that “ move beyond narrow self-serving concerns.” Assessing this brings to the forefront what education does for the individual then contributes toward the purpose of society. Nonetheless, Shapiro points out from his perspective “ this is one of those ideas that, while applauded in principle, is easily lost in the challenge of meeting one's day-to-day responsibilities.” From this, then it is possible drawing on the idea of higher education having a purpose for society.
“It is hardly surprising that Western higher education has transformed itself and its relationship to society a number of times over the last millennium, given that society's view of itself has also been transformed many times during this same period. A crisis in education is usually caused by a crisis in society that calls into question many existing ideas regarding the central issues of knowledge, culture, and society”. (Shapiro, 2005, p. 7)
The fact the 21st century stands as the age of technology makes the idea of higher education as pertinent to society in meeting the workforce demands of technically trained people proves a more than logical theorem. Specialized training institutes focusing on specific technically based degrees provide alternatives to the standard fare of higher education curriculum.


In conclusion, having considered the lectures provided in this course, using them as a springboard to expound research, identify, assess, and the discourse provided above considered how social functions of education, liberal, Marxist, functionalist as well as consideration and discussion on the purpose of education towards the individual and society proved enlightening. Each of the categories discussed above revealed how their philosophical underpinnings provided views on the purpose of education as remaining founded as appropriate to socially constructed values as the definitive expectation of society of the conduct of people in the world of work. The different debates discussed above according to these specific philosophies point to a pragmatic application of portions of all of them (except Marxism) in an increasingly democratization of the world in the 21st century. The philosophies discussed above prove how the fundamental rights of equality of opportunities of education in the 21st century embraces the concept of lifelong learning as beneficial to the quality of life of the individual and to society.


Aronowitz, S., and Giroux, H. 1986. Education under Siege: The Conservative, Liberal and Radical Debate over Schooling. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Bowles S & Gintis, H. 1976. Schooling in Capitalist America, London, Routledge and Kegan Pau
Aspin, D., and Judith Chapman. 2015. Lifelong learning: concepts, theories and values, David Aspin, Monash University, Australia Judith Chapman, Australian Catholic University
Paper presented at SCUTREA, 31st Annual Conference, 3-5 July 2001, University of East London. [On line] Available:
<> {Accessed 2 March 2015]
Carr, D. 2003. Making Sense of Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy and Theory of Education and Teaching. London: Routledge Falmer.
Kantzara, V. 2009. Social Functions of Education. Ritzer, G. (Ed). Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology Online. [On line] Available: <> [Accessed March 3 2015]
Levinson, M. 1999. The Demands of Liberal Education. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mirdha, D. 2013. Durkheim: The Role and Nature of Education [On line] Available: < > [Accessed 3 March 2015]
Shapiro, H. T. 2005. A Larger Sense of Purpose: Higher Education and Society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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